House panel moots action against security personnel guilty of indiscriminate killing

Kathmandu, April 9

A parliamentary sub-committee formed under lawmaker Moktar Ahmed to investigate the Saptari incident submitted its report today recommending action against security personnel who used indiscriminate force against protesters.

Five people were killed in Maleth of Saptari when security forces shot at protesters on March 6, the day the CPN-UML organised its Mechi-Mahakali campaign in the district. The police used force when UDMF cadres allegedly tried to disrupt UML’s programme.

The sub-panel formed on March 10 by Social Justice and Human Rights Committee of the Parliament stated that those killed in police firing were hit in the chest, head or abdomen and most of the injured sustained injuries above the knees.

“The security personnel who fired shots indiscriminately should be identified and prosecuted,” the report stated.

Stating that many people were killed or were seriously injured when police lost their restraint and fired shots at protesters in the past, the sub-panel added that firing shots to control protesters or disperse crowd was not an appropriate step.

The parliamentary sub-panel urged the security forces to maintain restraint to maintain peace and order. It also urged the government to restore peace in Saptari and most of the Tarai districts.

It also urged the government to carry out orientation for security personnel on use of arms. It asked the government to restore social harmony in the district, pointing out that UML cadres who were displaced from the district in the aftermath of the incident had not returned home due to fear of reprisal. The government was also urged to carry out a special programme to restore social harmony in the Tarai.

It was urged not to allow any party to organise political programmes in industrial areas and schools. The report stated that all the parties were free to hold political programmes in any part of the country and it is the state’s duty to provide security for such programmes. The report also urged the government to do the needful to stop deterioration of security situation and to prevent disruption of social harmony. It added that victims’ kin were yet to be compensated.

Ahmed told THT that in democracy protests and strikers were normal and security personnel should know how to handle them. He said security personnel ought to use tear gas canisters, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse protesters. “As per the law, security personnel can fire live bullets in grave situations but below the knees. In this incident, all the victims were hit above the knees,” he added.

Ahmed said security agencies had brought a watercannon from Kathmandu but did not use it, as there was no one with adequate knowledge to drive the vehicle carrying the cannon.

He said the sub-committee could not get detailed information about the incident from the superintendents of Nepal Police and Armed Police Force and chief district officer as they were transferred after the incident.